The secret to profitable farming

July 26, 2017 12:13 pm

By Martin Lole
Arable farmer and owner of Springfield Farm, a Mzuri Trial Farm in Pershore, Worcestershire, UK.

I was really pleased with this year’s rape yields setting yet another record high. Drilling down to the reasons of our success, I have identified seven contributing factors that bring everything together. Here’s my magic formula to profitable farming:

1. Well-structured soil. Seventh year into my strip tillage, organic matter levels have doubled and reduced traffic has eradiated compaction. What was previously heavy Evesham Lias Clay is now a well-aerated, friable-texture soil.

2. Moisture. Surface residue is great for moisture retention, and the more of it, the better. The high beam clearance on the Mzuri Pro-Til allows us to drill into huge amounts of straw. Not only does it save a nice little sum due to one pass drilling, it seals the moisture in to help the crop get away quickly and evenly.

3. Light interception. I’ve proved to myself time and time again that the wider row spacing on the Pro-Til produces a healthier, stronger and higher-yielding plant.

4. Booster fertiliser. Look out for a drill that can place the fertiliser below the seed to give the roots a boost. My Pro-Til 3T with a dual hopper does this nicely and the fact it does it in bands saves me a small fortune too.

5. A front leg with wing to produce a bit of tilth around the seed. Make sure the seed is always placed bang in the centre of the tilled strip. If your drill can’t do this, you’ll be losing out. The Pro-Til has a nifty side-to-side pivot on the seeding arm to achieve central seed placement; this is why my fields look even from edge to edge, including the headlands.

6. Seeding depth accuracy is very important for even germination. A drill that can exert pressure hydraulically onto individual coulter arms will always do it best as the seeding depth will always be the same, even in undulating ground.

7. Good seed-to-soil contact is recognised by all experts as being paramount to strong and even crop establishment. Air pockets or contaminant contact is bad news for the seed – and for the bank account, particularly when you’re talking oilseed rape, – so go for front leading discs to clear the residue and for a machine with good reconsolidation. A good press wheel following the seeding coulter could literally be a life saver when it comes to dodging the dreaded slugs.

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Good soil structure and lots of straw is all at the heart of what we do.